Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Diet Detective: Hey Evelyn, just wanted to thank you for joining us and giving us the opportunity to interview you. The first question is really to find out why you actually wrote a book on omega-3s?

Evelyn Tribole: To address an important health problem — we have a fat imbalance in our country, which contributes to many diseases. We eat too much omega-6 fats (vegetable oils) and not enough of the right kinds of omega-3 fats.

Diet Detective: What was the biggest surprise you found in researching your book?

Evelyn Tribole: There are two conflicting nutrient content claims for omega-3 fats, which was allowed through a loophole in federal food labeling law. This means, for example, that a food labeled “excellent source” of omega-3 fats might provide 32 or 130 milligrams of omega-3 per serving. That’s a big difference. Also, learning that omega-6 fats can worsen heart disease, cancer, arthritis, learning, and mood.

Diet Detective: What is an omega-3 fat and why is it important?

Evelyn Tribole: Omega-3 fats are functional fats — they switch on and off genes, reduce blood pressure, keep our hearts beating at the right pace and rhythm, regular our mood and stress levels, and combat inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic diseases.

Diet Detective: What is an omega-6 fat?

Evelyn Tribole: Omega-6 fats have opposing effects of omega-3 fats, and when eaten in excess they work against the benefits of omega-fats. It’s a relationship similar to a seesaw. When a seesaw is balanced proportionately, it works very well. A long time ago, we used to eat equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, and our bodies benefited from this balance. Today, that balance is severely out of whack. Omega-6s far outnumber the omega-3s we eat, in part due to the “push” of eating vegetable oil, the majority of which are loaded in omega-6 fats (i.e., corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil). These are the primary ingredients found in margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and processed foods. Too many omega-6 fats in our diet promote inflammation in our bodies.

Diet Detective: You talk about “Stealth Health” in one of your earlier books, what do you mean by that?

Evelyn Tribole: Getting healthy without knowing it, by making small, but significant changes in the foods you eat. For example, if you snip spinach into fine shreds, it resembles basil. This is a stealth way to add a vegetable, which mixes easily into spaghetti sauces, soups, and casseroles.

Diet Detective: What’s the most surprising and interesting fact or study that you’ve heard or discovered about dieting/weight control, which most of us have not heard about?

Evelyn Tribole: Several prospective studies on teenagers have shown that dieting can cause weight gain. Would you start dieting if you knew that it increased your risk of gaining more weight?

Diet Detective: If you could eat one forbidden or unhealthy food (candy, cakes, etc.) whenever you wanted without gaining weight, what would it be?

Evelyn Tribole: I eat chocolate regularly, and have a stable weight.

Diet Detective: If there were one healthy food item (something you love) that you had to eat every day, what would it be?

Evelyn Tribole: Beans.

Diet Detective: What do you think is the single most important thing that makes or breaks a diet for someone?

Evelyn Tribole: A healthy relationship with food, mind, and body.

Diet Detective: What do you consider the world’s most perfect food?

Evelyn Tribole: There’s no single perfect food, which is why we need a balanced diet; that said, I’d choose wild salmon.

Diet Detective: Do you believe that eating/cooking mostly at home is critical for a person to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Evelyn Tribole: No. You don’t have to eat perfect to be healthy. Nuts and dried edamame are great eating on the run foods because they don’t need to be refrigerated and have good “staying” power.

Diet Detective: What physical activity do you do to keep yourself in shape?

Evelyn Tribole: Hike, run, surf, yoga, weights, and in the winter I love to ski.

Diet Detective: What’s your favorite healthy ingredient?

Evelyn Tribole: Fresh basil.

Diet Detective: What’s the one kitchen utensil or tool that you can’t live without?

Evelyn Tribole: Kitchen shears.

Diet Detective: What’s the easiest healthy meal you know how to make?

Evelyn Tribole: Summer Pasta.

Cut up one of each: yellow pepper, orange pepper, and tomato. Toss with crushed garlic, olive oil, and freshly snipped basil. Scatter over cooked whole-wheat pasta.

Diet Detective: Do you have a favorite low calorie healthy recipe or cooking tip? If so would you share it?

Evelyn Tribole: I keep plenty of frozen raspberries in my freezer to make up a quick raspberry sauce, and serve it over vanilla yogurt.

Diet Detective: Do you have a Calorie Bargain?

Evelyn Tribole: I don’t count calories, but I seek out satisfying eating experiences, which in the end can result in eating less food. For example, I am satisfied with eating piece of fine chocolate (the real thing). I’ve had many patients seek out “substitutes,” and not feel satisfied. They end up eating more of the substitute food, and in the long run, consuming more calories.

Diet Detective: Define failure.

Evelyn Tribole: Not learning from your experiences.

Diet Detective: What’s the most bodacious chance you’ve ever taken?

Evelyn Tribole: I spent three nights in the rain forest in Costa Rica — without hot water or electricity, and went swinging from tree-to-tree in the jungle canopy (called zip-lining).

Diet Detective: What was your worst summer job?

Evelyn Tribole: Making cold-sales calls for a real estate company.

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